If you pull into the parking lot of a 6.5mm rifle dealership, chances are most of the guns on the lot will be chambered in 6.5mm Creedmoor. It’s nothing personal. It’s just business. The 6.5 Creedmoor is the most popular cartridge in the world. It’s not the only 6.5mm, however. Any self-respecting 6.5mm-selling establishment is going to have a row of 26 Nosler’s, a few 6.5x55 Swede’s here and there, and maybe a 264 Winchester Magnum over in the certified used section, but those proven cartridges aren’t the ones you’ll want to test drive. No, my low-recoil, deer-killing, long-range accuracy-loving friends, you’ll want to ask for the keys to the sub-compact on the lot, the 6.5 Grendel.
Why? Well, like all 6.5mm cartridges, it enables shooters to use the all-world 6.5mm caliber bullets, so there’s that. More importantly, the Grendel can do something the all-mighty 6.5mm Creedmoor can’t do, fit in an AR-15. It also kicks less and uses less gunpowder than the 6.5 Creedmoor. Is it accurate? Absolutely. The 6.5 Grendel is well known throughout the long-range shooting community. Why? It shoots sub-MOA groups out to 1000 yards, doesn’t go subsonic until 1200 yards, kicks like a baby bunny, and fits in the smaller, lighter AR15. It fits in a bolt-action too, but what doesn't? The 6.5 Grendel was created in 2003, four years before the Creedmoor. Unlike the superb 6.5mm Creedmoor, however, the Grendel wasn’t created to be an all-world long-range match cartridge. Yet, it is.
No, it was created for war as a more powerful AR15 alternative to the 5.56x45 NATO. It is. By pushing a heavier 123-grain bullet about 2500 fps it hits about 400 pounds harder at 500 yards than its 5.56x45 NATO cousin. Viva la Grendel! Actually, the 6.5 Grendel’s DNA is more Borscht than Bastille, since its parent case is the 220 Russian. Great. But can you hunt with it? Yes, you can and maybe you should. CZ-USA’s Jason Morton has traveled all over the world hunting with the 6.5 Grendel in CZ's 527 bolt-action rifle.
“I’ve taken everything with it from 20 to 300 pounds,” said Morton. “On the small side Klipspringer and Steenbok, on the larger side, Mule deer and Gemsbok. All told, I have taken around 20 medium-sized game animals with it. The ballistic tables show it retaining over 1000 ft-lbs. of energy out to just shy of 400 yards. My personal experience is out to 289 yards on my personal best Muley buck, though I’ve been on hunts with others where one shot kills on deer were no problem out past 300 yards. As long as you have done your homework on your drops and know how to compensate for the wind conditions, the cartridge and rifle are fully capable of taking medium sized game out to 400 yards. I’ve exclusively used the Hornady 123-grain SST so far, it’s perfect for the relatively mild speeds the Grendel delivers.”
So, the next time you’re in the market for a shiny-new 6.5mm rifle, don’t think you have to be like the Jones next door and have a 6.5mm Creedmoor, or a 26 Nosler, or even a 6.5x55 Swede parked in your gun safe. Bring home a Grendel. Think of it as the 6.5mm cartridge for hunters good enough to get closer than 400 yards to their prey.